UNO math professor will challenge Terry

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September 7th, 2011

Omaha, NE – Congressman Lee Terry will face another opponent in his Republican primary race next May. The head of the math department at the University of Nebraska Omaha threw his hat in the ring Wednesday.

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Standing outside the Federal Building in downtown Omaha, Jack Heidel announced his candidacy for Nebraska’s second district Congressional seat. Omahans might not know the name, but Heidel says he is the candidate to take down Republican incumbent Lee Terry, who’ll be seeking his eighth term in the U.S. House in 2012.

Jack Heidel announced Wednesday he will challenge incumbent Republican Lee Terry for his District 2 Congressional seat. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

Heidel is an elected representative on the Learning Community Coordinating Council of Douglas and Sarpy Counties. He is also the chair of the math department at the University of Nebraska Omaha, and he says his mathematical background is what uniquely qualifies him during this time of “out-of control” spending.

“How do we restore fiscal discipline?” he asked at a lightly attended press conference. “Well, 87 new Republican members of Congress were elected last year by campaigning to cut the budget. Our own incumbent Lee Terry is simply not qualified to provide leadership in this respect.”

Heidel says since Terry went to Congress in 1999, “the national debt has increased from $6 trillion to over $14 trillion, and the Republicans have been in charge for most of these years.”

Heidel called for a “critical mass” of committed budget cutters in Congress to start reining in the national debt. His plan to do so includes curbing entitlement spending through means testing and age limits, reducing regulations and enhancing trade agreements. But it also includes an unusual concession for Republicans in the current political climate: some tax revenue increases.

“As much as we can cut, and we can cut a lot, and reform entitlements and so on,” he said, “we still have to raise taxes. And I would work with everyone, including the Democrats of course to do this in any way we can.”

Heidel’s tax plan would not raise tax rates, however, which he says are high enough. He proposes broad-based tax reform that would limit deductions and close loop holes. He also proposes lowering the corporate tax rate by 10%, but says that should be offset by 5% tax increases for capital gains and dividends.

Heidel calls himself a “non-ideological” fiscal hawk, but says he is also “highly sympathetic” to the Tea Party. He says he believes he’ll find support there despite his moderate views, because he is serious about eliminating federal deficits. And that, he says, cannot be said of his incumbent opponent.

Congressman Lee Terry will also face another Republican challenger in the primary. Former Husker Brett Lindstrom announced he will run earlier this year. One Democrat has joined the race so far: Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing.

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